Follow Me: The Response that Impedes Regret
“Just a minute,” my son replied to my request. Immediately frustration and anger began to fester in the depths of my spirit.
Just a minute. Three words no parent wants to hear in response to their instructions. Three words that leave us feeling disrespected and ignored.
Seemingly out of nowhere came a little thought, “How many times have I responded, ‘Just a minute,’ to the Lord’s requests?”
Ouch. The frustration and anger were immediately replaced with feelings of embarrassment and guilt. I knew the Holy Spirit was using my son’s response to my instruction to convict me of the times I had declined the Lord’s invitation.
I ran through a list of things the Lord had invited me to do recently; things I had blown off with excuses as to why that moment wasn’t the right time.
Making cookies to deliver to the neighbors.
Writing a letter to my grandma.
Asking a friend to go for a walk.
Working on a writing project that I keep dragging my feet on.
Can you think of a time the Holy Spirit has invited you to do something, but you told Him, “just a minute” with your excuses? Maybe it was a volunteer opportunity, or a conversation you needed to have, or putting time into a relationship that needed building. Perhaps you were given a chance to start a new project. Maybe it was something bigger—a situation that would change the very makeup of your life.
But for some reason, you didn’t accept the invitation. And, although you may have felt temporarily justified, deep down, there was an aching feeling that wouldn’t go away. A feeling that reminded you of your mistake, bringing feelings of regret. Regret that made you feel ever so slightly undone.
As the Holy Spirit used my son’s response of “just a minute” to remind me of the invitations I had recently passed up, that aching feeling of regret seeped in and started to make me feel undone.
As I’ve wrestled with the lingering feelings those missed opportunities have left, I’ve been pondering the following passage.
As he [Jesus] was walking along the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
In this passage, we see Jesus invites Simon Peter and Andrew to follow Him. Take a look at what Simon Peter and Andrew were doing when Jesus invited them to follow. “They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.” They were working. Going about their daily life.
Luke 5:5 gives us a little more insight telling us they had been fishing all night long—without any success. Simon Peter and Andrew were going about their daily life, trying to make a living by catching fish. They must have been exhausted from working all night, and very likely, frustrated because they hadn’t caught anything.
Tired. Frustrated. Busy with daily life. Boy, I can relate to that. Can you?
So many of my excuses stem from being tired or busy or frustrated with daily life.
I didn’t make cookies for my neighbors because I was still unpacking the house from our recent move and was too tired to start another project that day.
I put off writing a letter to my grandma because I needed to clean up the breakfast dishes and then got busy with the rest of my day and simply forgot to circle back to it.
I didn’t ask my friend to go for a walk because I was frustrated and emotionally drained from keeping my boys focused on schoolwork on their days at home.
Tired. Busy. Frustrated. Common excuses we use. Yet, one other excuse comes to mind. Fear.
I wonder if Simon Peter or Andrew experienced any fear at Jesus’ invitation. After all, Jesus wasn’t asking them to make a little change, He was asking them to try something new. He was asking them to leave everything they knew to follow Him into the unknown.
Fear—that’s an excuse I can relate to. I delayed working on that writing project, I keep delaying working on that writing project, because it seems beyond my abilities and I’m more than a little afraid I can’t do it.
And, whether we succeed or fail, trying something new, something unknown, is scary. Stepping out in faith often is.
Does any of that resonate with you?
Look at how Simon Peter and Andrew responded to Jesus’ invitation after their long, frustrating night of working. Matthew 4:22 tells us, “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
After staying up all night to fish, after the exhaustion that surely comes from working all night, with nothing to show for it no less, they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. They didn’t ask for details so they could weigh the risks and mull it over. Immediately they accepted His invitation.
No excuses. Immediately.
Here’s the thing: when we feel a prompting from the Lord, an invitation of any sort, we shouldn’t blow it off because we’re tired or busy or frustrated or scared. We shouldn’t decline that invitation because we feel it’s not as important as whatever else we have going on.
And, let’s be honest, when we decline someone’s invitation, it’s because we think something else is more important. The very thought makes me wonder if Jesus feels disrespected and ignored the way I do when my children tell me, “Just a minute.” The thought fills me with the ache of regret, leaving me undone.
Friend, what could be more important than accepting an invitation from the Lord? What could be more rewarding?
When we decline an invitation from the Lord, we are the ones who miss out. We are the ones left with that aching feeling of regret that leaves us undone. Because when we decline an invitation from Jesus, we miss the opportunity to partner with Him—to walk with Him.
Immediate response to Jesus’ invitation impedes our regret.
Why do we struggle to follow Jesus immediately? Why are we clinging to our excuses instead of immediately accepting the invitation to join Him in service?
We struggle to immediately obey because we believe something else is more important.
Excuses. That is what we give when we decline an invitation to partner in Kingdom work with Jesus.
What excuses are preventing you from accepting the invitation to follow? What are you holding onto that’s keeping you from accepting His invitation to partner with Him in Kingdom work?
Did you figure it out?
Great. Now, give it to Jesus. Confess that whatever you’re holding onto is preventing you from accepting His invitation. Ask Him to help you overcome that excuse.
Then, ask Him for the opportunity to accept His invitation again.
Be ready, because that invitation will come before you know it. When it does, lay down those excuses and follow Him, taking yet another beautiful step toward joy in faithful living.